Run, Fat Boy, Run (***)
David Schwimmer’s big-screen directorial debut, Run, Fat Boy, Run, unquestionably belongs to Simon Pegg, its co-writer and star. Pegg, best known for his partnerships with Nick Frost in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, has a doltish, deer-in-the-headlights expression that belies a clever, cruel sense of humour. As Run, Fat Boy, Run’s Dennis Doyle, he animates a comedic cliché, the loser-underdog—in this case, a London slacker who leaves his fiancée, Libby (Thandie Newton), at the altar only to challenge her new boyfriend, Whit (Hank Azaria), to a marathon in order to win her back. Doyle doesn’t need an overhaul so much as a confidence boost: he’s got the right opinion about Whit (a showboating corporate shark who works in The Gherkin) and his attempts at training—which he does in vintage rock T-shirts and H&M undies—are brash, Cleesian parodies of the sport.
By the time Run, Fat Boy, Run comes to its predictable close, Pegg is still, more or less, operating on his own terms. His character gets the girl, of course, but seems as muddled and as wry as ever. Schwimmer, easily the quietest Friends alumnus, handles Pegg’s shtick unobtrusively and, though it would be unfair to call his directorial efforts mediocre (most comedic direction is by nature unobtrusive, and tied to pacing, at which Schwimmer is decent), it would be equally unfair to call them auspicious. Run, Fat Boy, Run is enjoyable, but without Pegg, it would be more or less nondescript.
Run, Fat Boy, Run is now playing at AMC Yonge & Dundas (10 Dundas St. E.).